This week’s Downton Abbey finds me writing this recap with a most heavy heart. The show has never been one to push any kind of controversial button. Sure, it has killed off major characters (forever in mourning of Matthew and Sybil) in shocking ways but death is a part of life, no matter how unexpected. Nothing in the world could have prepared me for what went down on this week’s episode though. The show really blew my mind as I am still reeling from the events almost an hour later.
Without much further ado, let’s discuss what went on with our beloved family and servants.
As always, spoilers lie ahead. If you do not wished to be spoiled, go back downstairs, polish some silverware, and keep it moving.
This week’s plot lines are brought to you by way of a social gathering. A house party is held, including a performance by Dame Nellie Melba (Kiri Te Kanawa), a famous Australian opera singer. Everyone is invited to partake in the festivities for the most part, even the servants. The Abbey receives tons of visitors, including Edith’s current love and a blast from Lady Mary’s past apparently.
Lady Mary renews her acquaintance with the suave Lord Gillingham, who flirts mildly with her. She still mourns for Matthew but seems to warm up to him. Edith, on the other hand, tries to get her father to warm up to her love without much success at first.
The servants, meanwhile, get chummy with the visiting servants, and one of them sets his eyes on Anna, Lord Gillingham’s valet, incurring the wrath of Mr. Bates. Daisy, Ivy and Mrs. Padmore busy themselves with all the food prep, apparently being too much for Ol’ Missus Padmore as she ends up having an anxiety attack midway through dinner prep, leaving Alfred to take over cooking duties (totally saw this one coming).
Things seem to be going pretty well for the most part as the guests appear to be enjoying themselves, Lord Gillingham particularly, as he seeks out Lady Mary’s company for a ride, which they bond over while he gives her sound advice about her financial duties.
Back to the servants, Jimmy injures himself while showing off in front the girls, leaving Mr. Carson shorthanded. He resolves this by seeking out the unemployed Mr. Molesley. At first he’s offended by having to be a footman but takes the job as he doesn’t have many options.
Elsewhere, Cousin Isobel continues to struggle with the loss of Matthew. She tries to stay away from the party but the Dowager Duchess wears her down and gets her to show up, though later on it looks like she has regrets as she watches Mary’s interactions with Lord Gillingham.
It pains Isobel to hear Mary even talking to another man, as she is still struggling to move on from her son’s death. Part of the problem is how alone she is, something both Tom and Violet pick up on and try to help with. By the end of the party though, she seems in better spirits.
One of the party guests is a Lord Sampson, who is quite the avid card player and takes all the men at the party to the cleaners, Robert and Edith’s Mr. Gregson included. Mr Gregson, Edith’s publisher friend, believes him to be a card sharp, and uses his own skill in that field to get their money back. He takes him on the following night, winning back all the money Sampson took from the other men and returning it to them. Robert is quite impressed, so Gregson’s got his blessing (maybe Edith will get her happy ending).
The only person who really does not seem to be enjoying the party is Tom, who feels so uncomfortable hob-knobbing with the friends of the Crawleys. Tom feels out of place amongst all the toffs, and thinks he’s embarrassing the family, something Lord Grantham is quick to dismiss.
The episode ends with two shocking twists: Remember my mention about Lord Gillingham’s servant earlier? His valet Mr Green gets too familiar with Anna later on in the evening, and whilst Dame Nellie is singing, he comes onto her. When she rebuffs his advances, he beats and rapes her in the servants hall while everyone else is upstairs listening to the singer perform.
It’s a hard scene to watch, as the juxtaposition of the crime with the music is both unsettling and tragic. Mrs. Hughes is the first one to find Anna in quite the state, reeling (as I am still now). What’s even worse is Anna begging Mrs. Hughes not to tell anyone, for fear of what will happen to Mr. Bates when (not if) he goes after Mr. Green.
In twist number two, though not as shocking as the first one, Tom ends up drowning his sorrows as the night progresses. The drunken pity party, though, costs him as Edna, still pursuing him, takes advantage, and goes to his room. It quickly turns into a nighttime dalliance with Edna as the episode ends.
There you have it my Downtonians. All has changed once again as worlds have been shattered. Anna and Mr. Bates are in for major upset as previously teased but I seriously doubt that anyone saw this coming. As for Tom, I really hope he finds a way to get rid of Edna for good.
Heartbreaking Quote of the Night:
“I have this feeling that when I laugh or read a book or hum a tune, it means that I’ve forgotten him, just for a moment. And it’s that that I can’t bear.” – Cousin Isobel
We have a lot to digest until next week. My fellow Downtonian, Mata Lauano, will be back as your recapper, as we get to see the effects of the twists!